Peter Wehrwein, senior editor at Managed Healthcare Executive, spoke with Lisa Griffin, senior vice president of front-end operations at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia, about the pivot to telehealth, "seamless access" and racism.
Here are some excerpts from our interview with Lisa Griffin, vice president of front-end operations Jefferson Health. They have been edited for length and clarity.
On being called the “seamless access” department
We're called seamless access. And that just means that every connection point for our patients that they want to connect with us, it has to be barrier free. If they're calling to pay a bill, if they want to speak with our customer service and ask questions, if they want directions, if they want to schedule an appointment — all those avenues have to be seamless and barrier free to where the patients can get to us. So that is a premise around something being seamless.
On changes she made in the department
I've been here a little over a year. I ripped off the Band-Aid and changed all of my positions, the task competencies, key measures and weightings, and then put training around those job roles so that we can get the right people that understand the concept of first-call resolution from every patient that calls in, or if they decide to use our chatbot online to get to us or fill out a form on our website. All those channels are employees within seamless access. They are trained on all of those channels.
On payment and insurance
Our schedulers are trained on if you're self-pay, and you need additional services, linking you up with a payment plan. If you can't do a payment plan and you need financial assistance, we are a nonprofit hospital, so we have financial assistance programs that allow patients to seek care without the ability to pay. So there are a number of ways that we're addressing when patients may be at that stage where they can't pay but they need the services. So our schedulers are trying to do all of those things I just mentioned, talk to them find out about where they are. We also have social workers that can help a patient get Medicaid coverage or help guide them through that process.
There were people that were losing jobs very quickly. Unemployment was held up because of the vast number of claims. Some of them, not because of any fault of their own, now are faced with “I need to be seen” and making a decision if I can I be, based on payment. And so we had to let really impress on our schedulers the need to have different type of conversations today because these patients, some of them have never been in this situation. They're faced with the unknown. They've always worked, they always had insurance, and now they're faced with waiting for unemployment, and no insurance. We really had to have some sensitivity type of training and reinforce on high alert the need to be able to meet the whole person related to their health care.